J. B. Pritzker

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J. B. Pritzker
Born Jay Robert Pritzker
(1965-01-19) January 19, 1965 (age 52)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Education Duke University (BA)
Northwestern University (JD)
Net worth US $3.4 billion (May 2015)[1]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Muenster
Children 2
Relatives Donald Pritzker (Father)
Website Official website

Jay Robert "J. B." Pritzker (born January 19, 1965) is an American venture capitalist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and private business owner based in Chicago. He is managing partner and co-founder of the Pritzker Group, a private investment firm that operates middle-market service and industrial companies and invests in digital technology companies. He is a member of the Pritzker family, and has an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion.[2]

On April 4, 2017, Pritzker announced his candidacy as a Democrat for the 2018 Illinois governor's race.[3] One week after announcing his candidacy, he hosted a meeting in Cicero, Illinois. Pritzker soon received criticism for his meeting, for which the media received no notice, for ejecting a newspaper reporter who learned of it, and attended it.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Pritzker was born to the Pritzker family, a Jewish family prominent in business and philanthropy during the later 20th century, one of the wealthiest families in the United States of America, being near the top of Forbes magazine's "America's Richest Families" list since the magazine began listings in 1982.[5]It has been alleged that the patriarch of the Pritzker family who first amassed wealth did so using money made by organized crime.[6] One of three children of Sue (née Sandel) and Donald Pritzker.[7][8] He attended Massachusetts boarding school Milton Academy and then graduated from Duke University with an A.B. in political science. Pritzker went on to earn his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. Pritzker is an attorney and a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and Chicago Bar Association.


In 1996, J.B. Pritzker founded Pritzker Group Venture Capital (formerly New World Ventures), the largest venture investor based in the Midwest. The firm invests nationally in rapidly growing technology companies at all stages of their growth, with a principal focus on enterprise software, e-commerce and managed services. The firm has invested in more than 100 companies, including Fleetmatics (NYSE:FLTX), SinglePlatform (acquired by Constant Contact), Chegg (NYSE:CHGG), Awesomeness TV (acquired by DreamWorks), Playdom (acquired by Disney), Lefthand Networks (acquired by Hewlett-Packard), and TicketsNow (acquired by Ticketmaster).

Pritzker is a leading proponent of entrepreneurship and a stronger technology sector in the Midwest. He chairs ChicagoNEXT, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's council on innovation and technology, and founded 1871, Chicago's digital startup center. He played an important role in the creation of the Illinois Venture Capital Association and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. He also co-founded Chicago Ventures and funded the startup of Techstars Chicago and Built in Chicago. Pritzker has received numerous awards and community recognition for his efforts to build a stronger technology sector in the Midwest.

Together with his brother Tony, J.B. Pritzker co-founded Pritzker Group Private Capital, which owns and operates middle-market companies. The group includes a growing family of companies including investment castings manufacturer Signicast, pallet rental leader Pallet and medical device maker Clinical Innovations.


Pritzker is one of the nation’s chief philanthropists in early childhood development. As president of the Pritzker Family Foundation, he funds innovative research and programs serving children in poverty. Under the leadership of Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, he supported the creation of the Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development at the University of Chicago.[9] Along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the Irving Harris Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Pritzker Family Foundation is a founding supporter of the First Five Years Fund, an organization focusing nationwide attention and resources on comprehensive, quality early care and learning programs for children from birth to age five.[10] In 2013, Pritzker teamed with Goldman Sachs to fund the first ever social impact bond for early childhood education.[11]

As chairman of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which opened in 2009, Pritzker successfully led the capital campaign and planning to build an international institution in the Midwest dedicated to teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides.[12] Pritzker is the principal funder of Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, the most significant online source for news and commentaries regarding the international criminal tribunal created to bring to justice the perpetrators of Pol Pot era acts of genocide. He served as chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and was succeeded by former White House counsel and Federal Judge Abner J. Mikva.[13]

In 2007, Pritzker and his wife donated $5 million to the University of South Dakota to build the Theodore R. and Karen K. Muenster University Center in honor of his wife's parents.[14] In 2011, Milton Academy dedicated the Pritzker Science Center for which Pritzker provided the lead gift. Pritzker is a trustee and serves on the investment committee of Northwestern University and is a member of the Board of Governors of Northwestern University School of Law. He is a trustee of the Field Museum of Natural History and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Commercial Club of Chicago.

On October 22, 2015, Northwestern University School of Law announced that J. B. Pritzker and his wife, M. K. Pritzker, had made a $100 million gift to the law school. The 156-year-old school will be named the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.[15]

Political activities[edit]

In the 2008 Presidential election, Pritzker served as national co-chairman of the Hillary Clinton for President campaign and as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He supported President Barack Obama in the 2008 general election and helped bring the Clinton and Obama campaigns in Illinois together.[16]

Pritzker founded Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century,[17] a national organization dedicated to attracting voters under the age of 40 to the Democratic Party. He also served on the legislative staff of U.S. Senator Terry Sanford (D-NC), U.S. Senator Alan J. Dixon (D-IL) and U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), for whom he handled issues such as international trade, election reform and handgun control.

In 1998, he ran for U.S. Congress in Illinois's 9th congressional district, spending heavily from his personal fortune on television ads in the Chicago market.[18] Pritzker finished last among three candidates in the Democratic primary, receiving 20.48% of the vote, to then State Representative Jan Schakowsky's 45.14% and State Senator Howard W. Carroll's 34.40%.[19]

In April 2017, he announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for governor of Illinois. Pritzker is considered an early front-runner for the nomination, a position cemented by the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO.[20]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • In 2013, Pritzker received the Survivors' Legacy Award for his leadership in the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.[21]
  • Pritzker received the Entrepreneurial Champion Award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce for his efforts to promote economic development and job creation.[22]
  • The Chicago Sun-Times named Pritzker to its "Hot 100" most prominent members of Chicago's technology economy.
  • He received the Spirit of Erikson Institute Award for his creation of the Children's Initiative.[23]
  • As chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission, he was recognized for his outstanding achievement in reforming the state’s chief civil rights adjudicatory agency for housing and employment discrimination.
  • In 1994, Campaigns and Elections' Politics magazine named Pritzker one of the “Rising Stars” of the Democratic Party.

Personal life[edit]

In 1993, he married Mary Kathryn "M. K." Muenster of South Dakota whom he had met in Washington, D.C when she worked as an aide to Senator Thomas Daschle of South Dakota.[24] She is one of three children of Theodore and Karen Muenster. Her father unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1990.[25] They live in Chicago with their two children.[1]

Pritzker has two elder siblings: Penny Pritzker (born 1959), who served as 38th United States Secretary of Commerce, and Anthony Pritzker (born 1961).


  1. ^ a b Forbes: "The World's Billionaires - Jay Robert (J.B.) Pritzker" March 2014
  2. ^ "Jay Robert (J.B.) Pritzker". Forbes. 
  3. ^ Pearson, Rick. "J.B. Pritzker joins Illinois governor race, facing big Democratic field to take on Rauner". chicagotribune.com. 
  4. ^ http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/mihalopoulos-pritzker-goes-progressively-lower-in-governor-bid/
  5. ^ "Pritzker family". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  6. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2006-09-24/entertainment/0609220481_1_chicago-mob-bosses-mafia
  7. ^ Chicago Tribune: "Mishap kills Sue Pritzker, widow of Hyatt Hotel founder, at age 49" May 8, 1982
  8. ^ Los Angeles Times: "Rooms With a View : Chance Encounter Led to Creation of Rapidly Expanding Hyatt Hotels Chain' by NANCY RIVERA BROOKS November 24, 1987
  9. ^ "Pritzker". JB Pritzker Biographical Website. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  10. ^ "Philanthropic Partners". The First Five Years Fund - Official website. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  11. ^ William Alden (June 12, 2013). "Goldman Sachs to Finance Early Education Program Philanthropic Partners". New York Times DealBook. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  12. ^ Jane Charney (21 April 2009). "New Illinois Holocaust museum emphasizes lessons for future". JTA - Jewish & Israel News. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  13. ^ "Gov. Blagojevich appoints Judge Abner Mikva Chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission: Former judge to replace outgoing J.B. Pritzker". Illinois Government News Network. 26 July 2006. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  14. ^ University of South Dakota: "J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation Provides Generous Gift to The U for Construction of Muenster University Center" October 12, 2007
  15. ^ Hilary Hurd Anyaso (22 October 2015). "Pritzker Family Makes Unprecedented Gift to Northwestern Law". Northwestern Newscenter. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  16. ^ Dan Morain (2008-08-25). "J.B. Pritzker and Penny Pritzker end their Clinton-Obama rift". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  17. ^ Gwen Ifill (1991-10-14). "Seeking Electoral Edge, Parties Court the Young". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  18. ^ "Pritzker Pumps $500,000 Into Tv Ads", Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1998. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  19. ^ "Official Final Results", Cook County Clerk. p. 2. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  20. ^ Garcia, Rick Pearson, Monique. "Illinois labor group endorses Pritzker, cementing Democratic front-runner status". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-06-07. 
  21. ^ Shia Kapos (March 7, 2013). "Brodsky, Rice, Pritzker feted by Holocaust museum". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  22. ^ Scott Issen. "J.B. Pritzker Honored as Entrepreneurial Champion; SAVO Receives 2008 Merrick Momentum Award to Recognize Business Success and Growth Potential". Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center - Official website. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 
  23. ^ Pat Nedeau. "500 Guests Helped Erikson Institute Celebration 40th Anniversary at Prism Ball: Black-tie affair honoring J.B. Pritzker raised a record $1.1 million". Erikson Institute - Official website. Retrieved 2009-11-30. [dead link]
  24. ^ Chicago Tribune: "The Long Run - After His First Date With Politics, J.b. Pritzker Is Ready To Make A Commitment" By Rick Kogan May 24, 1998
  25. ^ Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan: "New USD Student Center Officially Dedicated" By David Lias May 16, 2009

External links[edit]